Skidmore, Owings & Merrill is famous for building tall, but with the firm's new residential development in Dubai, it is building thin as well. The 1,180-foot Al Sharq tower has a shockingly sleek 1:10 aspect ratio (the Sears tower, for example, has a ratio of 1:5), which is achieved by gathering nine 40-foot-diameter tubes (each with a 1:30 aspect ratio) into a cell-like matrix. The center “tube” is a concrete core, with reinforced shear walls that are 50 inches thick at the base and taper to 23 inches thick at the upper levels. The shear walls extend slightly from the core to serve as support between each of the eight perimeter tubes, making the core resemble a slightly truncated tic-tac-toe board. Each of the eight surrounding tubes is wrapped on the bias in 0.6-inch- to 2-inch-diameter high-strength galvanized steel wire, spaced every 60 inches and anchored back to the shear walls that extend between each tube. Each floor plate is a nearly 8-inch-thick two-way slab of concrete, leaving an overall ceiling height in each unit of between 11 and 16 feet, depending on the floor level. “As a structural design, I think it is worthy, beautiful, and perhaps even innovative,” said juror Coleman Coker.

Gary Haney
Bruce Byers Gary Haney

PROJECT Al Sharq Tower


ARCHITECT Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), New York—Gary Haney (design partner, pictured); Peter Magill (managing partner); Mark Sarkisian (structural partner); Aybars Asci (senior designer); Chas Peppers, Dean Mckenzie, Yasemin Kologlu, Noppon Pisutharnon, Souraya Daouk (project team)

ASSOCIATE ARCHITECT Khatib & Alami, Dubai, U.A.E.



ENGINEERS SOM, San Francisco (structural); SOM, Chicago (M/E/P)

CONSULTANTS Shen Milsom & Wilke (A/V, security, acoustics); Van Deusen & Associates (vertical transport); Office for Visual Interaction (lighting); Mott MacDonald (quantity surveyors)

CLIENT Al Sharq Investment

COST withheld

SIZE 1 million square feet